With the spring semester over, Grand Rapids Community College is pushing students to enroll in summer and fall classes while they still have time. Eric Mullen, GRCC’s dean of Student Success and Retention corresponded with The Collegiate over email to answer some questions about how the college is approaching this push.
GRCC administrators have been transparent about the lower than normal enrollment numbers these last few years and how this has impacted their approach to recruiting and retaining students. Ten years ago, in 2013, summer enrollment was 8,181. However, enrollment has dropped off in the years since, with summer enrollment at 6,556 students in 2021 and 5,896 students in 2022. Mullen explained that the school has begun focusing on new enrollment tactics to entice more students.
“As we work to attract new students for the summer and fall, we have a number of opportunities that will remove financial obstacles and support students to start their first semester at GRCC strong,” stated Mullen. “Bridges to College – Raider Ready is a summer program we are offering for students graduating high school this spring, helping them with those foundational skills and connecting with college resources to help them have a strong start to their college journeys.”
According to the GRCC website, Bridges to College – Raider Ready is a seven-week, free program that aims to help newly graduated high school students prepare for the transition to college. The program offers support for reading, writing and math skills as well as activities to “get students ready to become a GRCC Raider, and help them build a sense of belonging at Grand Rapids Community College.” The website also mentions “field trip days,” and specifically a potential field trip to Michigan’s Adventure. Those who enter into the program will be provided with everything necessary to participate, including a laptop, breakfast and bus passes.
Another method to increase enrollment that Mullen mentioned is The Michigan Achievement Scholarship which is awarded to students who graduated in 2023. The amount of money given by the scholarship varies but it applies to those who attend a career training program, a Michigan community college or a Michigan private or public college after high school.
“We’re working with our partners to raise awareness of this program and support students gaining access to additional resources,” stated Mullen.
Mullen said the college is also looking to raise awareness about the Michigan Reconnect Scholarship which covers the cost of community college tuition for Michiganders 25 and older without a degree.
“Concerning these and other efforts, we are working with new data sources and technology systems to target students in our service region who are likely excellent candidates for these and other programs and services. We are using this new data to drive highly personalized campaigns to segments of our community who will be interested in these education and training programs, and providing clear and timely guidance to begin or restart their education with GRCC,” Mullen stated.
Aside from enrollment, some students have noted that summer classes have an unusual abundance of online options.
Mullen explained that this is not a coincidence stating, “I can share that students attending in the summer are often looking to take classes while scheduling around summer jobs and activities, and online classes give them greater flexibility.”
“We have also observed that summer classes have been growing in popularity among guest students, who are looking to stay on track and transfer credits back to their home university. We are constantly looking to find ways to make a GRCC education more accessible, and scheduling online classes is one way to do that. We continue to look at potential changes through the start of the semester.”
Summer classes begin on May 8 and enrollment is currently open. Registration for fall classes as well as winter 2024 classes is also available.